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16 December 2020
Tasting Notes

Grapetionary

Sniff, swirl and sip your way through the A – Z of grape varieties...

BEER CORNER (A-D)

A

Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko 2018 Santorini, Greece
$35 glass / $11 tasting
Assyrtiko is quite the remarkable grape variety. The vines are trained into basket like shapes to protect bunches from the incredibly strong coastal winds. The vines are cultivated on volcanic soils and on their original roots stocks on the island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea. The wine is full flavoured and textured with a distinct sea spray note and high acidity.

B

Markus Altenburger Blaufränkisch ‘Vom Kalk’ 2018 Burgenland, Austria
$16 glass / $5 tasting
Blaufränkisch, which is a parent grape of both Gamay and Zweigelt, shows the ability to adapt well to different terroirs and styles can change depending on where it is grown. It is planted widely throughout Austria, southern Germany (where it is known as Lemberger), and across much of central and eastern Europe (where it is often called Kékfrankos). Rich blue/black fruits and peppery spice are well balanced by lively acidity in this food friendly Austrian red.

C

Arnaud Lambert ‘Clos Mazurique’ Samur 2018 Loire Valley, France
$20 glass / $7 tasting
Cabernet Franc (along with Sauvignon Blanc) is the parent grape of Cabernet Sauvignon, but has often in the past been overshadowed by its offspring – largely being used in blends and its identity only referenced on the back label. But Cabernet Franc is just beautiful when made as a single variety. Incredibly perfumed with lifted violets and immediate vibrancy, cocoa powder tannins and medium bodied silky expression, Cab Franc is fast becoming a grape variety of choice for many. Arnaud Lambert is a very talented winemaker on the rise, and his expression of Cab Franc is perfumed, complex and incredibly structured with acidity rather than tannin.

D

G.D Vajra Dolcetto d’Alba 2019 Piedmont, Italy
$18 glass / $6 tasting
Dolcetto is widely grown in the north west of Italy, alongside its famous co-star Nebbiolo. Dolcetto has a more gentle structure although tannins can still be quite assertive. Acidity is tart and refreshing, making this a perfect food wine, while flavours of black cherry, plum, black pepper and cocoa offer primary fruit and body. The wines of G.D Vajra are striking. Consistency, vibrancy, freshness and density all key factors to explaining Vajra’s international appeal.

WINE MERCHANT (E-K)

E

Markus Molitor Brauneberger Eiswein (Riesling) 2016 Mosel, Germany (375ml)
$42 glass (60mls) / $21 tasting (30mls)
Eiswein is produced by pressing frozen grapes, therefore can only be made in very cold climates such as Germany and Canada. The juice is incredibly sweet and the fermentation can take up to 6 months to complete! It is highly laborious and expensive to produce and the result is some of the world’s greatest sweet wines. Markus Molitor is one of the most famed producers in the Mosel – producing wines of the highest distinction and prestige. The 2016 Eiswien is concentrated and luscious with flavours of pear, honeysuckle, dried apples and tea leaves. Nervy acidity offers beautiful freshness and minerality.

F

Higher Plane Fiano 2019 Margaret River, WA
$15 glass / $4 tasting
Hailing from the warmer coastal regions of southern Italy, Fiano is an ancient Italian variety that was almost extinct, until the 1990’s when Fiano went through a bit of a renaissance. In 2003 the DOC of Avellina was established and now Fiano is considered to be one of Italy’s great native varieties. Fiano is a textured and savoury variety with distinct briney acidity. Higher Plane are the largest producer of Fiano in WA. This wine has a sense of richness to it, but it is balanced by fresh acidity and has great fruit power.

G

Hugel Gewürztraminer 2016 Alsace, France
$21 glass / $7 tasting
Gewürztraminer is an incredibly powerful and aromatic grape variety. Heady aromas of rose petals, lychee, musk and potpourri are commonly associated with this variety that hails from Germany but is more famous in the Alsace region of France. The wine can often have a copper hue, as the grapes are more of a pinky/grey colour when ripe. Gewürztraminer is often said to go well with spicy food, as the dominant fruit flavour acts as a contrast to many bold flavours. It also matches well with soft washed rind cheeses. Famille Hugel have an extraordinary winemaking history in Alsace dating back to 1639. Their 2016 expression of this grape is exuberant, joyful and lively – an absolute explosion of flavour and aromatics in the glass.

H

Rob Bowen Hárslevelű 2018 Pemberton, WA
$18 glass / $6 tasting

Hárslevelű is a richly-flavored grape variety from Hungary. It is best known for its supporting role in sweet Tokaji wines (where the better-known Furmint variety rules), but is sometimes made as a varietal wine, in both dry and sweet styles. Hárslevelű is named after the ‘lime leaf’ character the wines can smell like.

I

Riofavara Marzaiolo 2017 Sicily, Italy
$21 glasses / $7 tasting

Inzolia is an Italian grape variety grown in both Sicily and Tuscany. While it is most famous traditionally as an ingredient in Masala, it is now seen more and more as a crisp, dry white wine, in blends and as a single variety. Inzolia wines are moderately aromatic, and tend to display nutty, citrusy characters with herbal notes. Here it is blended with Grecanico and Chardonnay to produce a wine with lifted notes of golden apple, apricot kernel, wild grass, peach skin and a lingering background minerality.

J

Adrien Berlioz ‘Cuvee des Gueux’ 2016 Savoie, France
$21 glass / $7 tasting
Jacquère is a variety of white grape found primarily in the Savoy wine region of France. It is a high-yielding vine variety which is used to produce lightly scented, refreshing and gently aromatic dry white wine, such as Vin de Savoie. This is a beautiful expression due to low yields in the vineyard and low intervention in the cellar. Grass, white flowers and apple on the nose, followed by a plump and refreshing palate with mineral crunch.

K

Kofererhof Kerner 2019 Alto Adige, Italy
$21 glass / $7 tasting
Kerner is grown as a frost-resistant grape variety especially at higher elevations in the Val Venosta and Isarco Valley. This cross between Schiava and Riesling owes its name to the German poet Julius Kerner. The sleek, spicy white has subtle tones of warm nutmeg alongside an abundance of stonefruit flavours and a crisp, minerally finish.

POST (L-P)

L

Girlan Lagrein 2018 Alto Adige, Italy
$19 glass / $7 tasting
Lagrein is an ancient grape variety that comes from north-eastern Italy. The wines tend to be quite full and velvety with dense colour, fresh tannin and quite firm tannins. The fruit character in these wines is quite charming – dark plum, rhubarb, cherry, cocoa powder and violets. Lagrein pairs beautifully with game meats and hard cheeses.

M

Monte Schiavo ‘Serenelli’ Montepulciano 2016 Abruzzo, Italy
$15 glass / $5 tasting
Montepulciano can be a little tricky to understand as not only is it a grape variety grown across central Italy (primarily in Abruzzo) it is also the name of a town where they produce a wine called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano which is made entirely out of Sangiovese! It has increasing plantings in Australia as it’s a very versatile variety and matches perfectly with rich savoury dishes due to its high acidity and full body.

N

Pietradolce Rosso 2018 Sicily, Italy
$22 glass / $7 tasting
Nerello Mascalese is a light-bodied red wine that primarily grows on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily. Full of red fruit flavors that leads into spice notes of cinnamon and floral dried desert herbs. Finer examples of Nerello Mascalese finish long with tingly acidity, a rustic black earthy note, and medium weight fine-grained tannins. The unique volcanic soils of the slopes of Mount Etna offer an energy and lift to the wines that grow there. This wine has elegance, brightness and purity.

O

Vallone Ottavianello 2017 Puglia, Italy
$14 glass / $5 tasting

Ottavianello (also known as Cinsault in France) grows in the tiny DOC of Ostuni in Puglia. It is quite light bodied and is of medium colour. These wines display red cherry fruits and florals with some hazelnut and warm spice notes. They are quite soft yet persistent wines.

P

Poggio Anima ‘Lilith’ Primitivo 2018 Puglia, Italy
$14 glass / $5 tasting
Primitivo is a dark skinned, inky variety, known for producing full bodied, ripe and tannic wines in Puglia. It is also known as Zinfandel in the United States of America and is thought to have originated from Croatia where it is known as Crljenak. At Massena in the Barossa Valley, the fruit is gently destemmed and basket pressed to produce a dry red wine with leafy aromatics, Morello cherry, black pepper and warm earth.

LONG CHIM (Q-U)

Q

Pheasants Tears ‘Chinuri’ Amber 2017 Kakheti, Georgia (Qvevri wine)
$24 glass / $8 tasting
Rkatsiteli (100%) from vines planted at 400 meters altitude around the village of Nukriaani in the famous wine region of Kakheti in eastern Georgia. Whole bunches of grapes are placed in qvevris – large Georgian amphorae buried up to their necks in the winery – followed by six weeks of maceration on the skins, then 18 months of maturation in qvevri. This wine has an intense nose of almonds, beeswax, dried herbs and walnuts. The palate is long and tannic with firm structure and plenty of intrigue.

R

Jamsheed Roussanne 2019 Beechworth, Vic
$18 glass / $6 tasting
Roussanne is one of the traditional grape varieties of the northern Rhone. It is a late ripening and powerful white that is often blended with Marsanne. The aroma of Roussanne is often reminiscent of a flowery herbal tea in warm climates where it produces wines of richness, with flavors of honey and pear, and full body. In cooler climates it is more floral and more delicate, with higher acidity. This example from Jamsheed is full of pear and apples, tea leaf and honey – beautifully balanced and subtle, with just gorgeous texture.

S

Side Project Saperavi 2017 Perth Hills, WA
$16 glass / $6 tasting
Saperavi is a dark, deeply coloured variety native to Georgia. It is one of the very few wine grapes that has red flesh, as almost all red grape varieties have clear flesh, with the wine’s colour coming from the skins. This wine is dark and inky with bitter chocolate tones, earthy complexity and fine yet structured tannins.

T

Mazza Touriga Nacional 2018 Geographe, WA
$15 glass / $5 tasting
Touriga Nacional is Portugal’s most prized red grape, best known for producing darkly coloured, rich, tannic and age worthy wines that have drawn comparisons to Cabernet Sauvignon. The variety is very hardy – showing good resistance to heat and fungal disease in vineyards. These are some of the reasons Touriga is one of 7 new grape varieties permitted in blends in Bordeaux from 2020. The Geographe region in WA has shown great promise for Portuguese varieties and David Mazza works very hard to showcase these varieties in a modern and fresh style.

U

Freres Laffitte ‘Le Petit Gascoun’ 2019 Gascogne, France
$11 glass / $4 tasting
Ugni Blanc is the most widely planted white grape in France, mainly used in the production of Cognac and Armagnac. Also known as ‘trebbiano’ in Italy. This wine is approachable and floral with particularly fetching stone fruit aromas, mingled with ripe tropical fruit on the nose. The palate is crisp and dry with peach and lychee, finishing balanced and fresh.

WILDFLOWER (V-Z)

V

Yokel Verdelho 2020 Swan Valley, WA
$13 glass / $4 tasting
Verdelho is a Portuguese grape variety that is grown on Portugal’s mainland in the Douro Valley and on the island of Madeira. Verdelho came to Australia in the 1820s and was traditionally used in the production of fortified wines, before eventually being used to produce the modern, fruit driven, dry white table wines styles. Jo Perry sources 80 year old Verdelho vines from the Lamonts vineyard in the upper Swan. This wine has excllent texture from careful battonage and some time on skins, along with lots of tropical green fruit, papaya and mango.

W

Ziereisen Weisser Burgunder 2018 Baden, Germany
$19 glass / $6 tasting
Weisser Burgunder (also known as Pinot Blanc) is a dry, white variety that originated in Burgundy as a mutation of Pinot Noir. It is a versatile variety, used to make everything from creamy rich white, to dry sparkling wine. Ziereisen is a superstar producer. The 2018 Weisser Burgunder is intense yet still yeasty and somewhat reductive on the elegant and aromatic nose. On the palate, this is a straight, pure, fresh and elegant Pinot Blanc, with a subtle form of power on the finish. Tight and salty and always refreshing.

X

Kir Yianni ‘Ramnista’ Xinomavro 2017 Naoussa, Greece
$21 glass / $7 tasting
Xinomavro is one of the most important red grape varieties in northern Greece. Xino (sour) and mavro (black) is an interesting moniker considering the tint of this grape is not particularly rich in colour. It is surprisingly versatile in Greece where it makes a number of wine styles including sparkling and rose. It is quite a structured variety and has often been likened to a cross between Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir, producing fine, aromatic and age worthy wines.

Y

Gönc Podravska 2019 Stajerska, Slovenia
$18 glass / $6 tasting
This very fun, fresh, and crisp flowers-and-lychee-driven wine is a blend of two different clones of Yellow Muscat, hand-harvested from a single organically farmed vineyard. Peter Gonc calls them an early bird and a late bloomer. The early bird gives the wine all the freshness and aromas from the grapes, and the late bloomer is more mature and gives the wine depth and body. The highly unusual but equally highly successful use of full malolactic fermentation brings the wine together as a remarkably creamy, complex, and strikingly dry whole.

Z

Anton Bauer Zweigelt 2017 Wagram, Austria
$18 glass / $6 tasting

Zweigelt is now the most widely-grown red grape variety in Austria. It is a cross of St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch. It is quite a fruity variety that has a seductive charm and elegance to it. Many winemakers in Austria are producing wines with more elegance and structure, and reducing the use of oak. The Anton Bauer Zweigelt is light and fine with white pepper, red plum and leafy, delicate tannins.

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